Like all big failures, there are several factors that combined and conspired to Australia's tragic succumbing to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Even as recently as mid-June when a Victoria outbreak was quelled, Australia's defences against outbreaks — border closures, mandatory quarantine hotels, extensive contact tracing and strict social distancing — seemed impenetrable.
More transmissible variants however, exposed the small cracks in these defences. Ultimately, its early success was Australia's undoing.
Fully masked nurses, police officers and soldiers met anyone arriving in Australia, ready to escort them to quarantine hotels. However, transportation drivers to quarantine hotels did not need to wear masks — and it's believed one of these drivers became "patient zero" for the recent outbreaks.
Australia had enjoyed impressive success compared with other parts of the world, but it is impossible to have an impenetrable defence. Early viral incursions were repelled; not so the much more transmissible Delta plus one.
Poor air recirculation and lack of fresh air may have spread infections within the hotel.
Compounding Australia's situation is its low protection, with only 5 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, and 29 per cent partially. Similar to New Zealand, there have been difficulties in securing enough doses to roll out a full-on programme. Lack of positive cases placed both nations lower in the pecking order for vaccine supplies and elevated complacency amongst people who were being offered them.
Australia's vaccine programme was initially reliant on the AstraZeneca shot, though it also gained supply agreements with Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax. The vaccine scheme was an early success, with an AstraZeneca manufacturing arrangement with medical firm CSL.
However, local production didn't live up to expectations and a disagreement with the European Union meant an AstraZeneca shipment was withheld. Public confidence plunged after a rare blood clotting disorder was linked to the AstraZeneca jab.
Added to the Australian scenario were frequent differences of opinion between states. The best results in containing and eradicating Covid-19 have come from intercountry co-operation. This week, Queensland's chief health officer Jeannette Young outright rejected a call from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for those under the age of 40 to have the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Al Jazeera reports viral transmissions have reached near 100 per cent within infected households. Some positive cases are now turning up with no identifiable links to known infections.
Forensic investigations of where transmissions have occurred have shown instances where people passing each other in shopping malls have apparently shared the virus.
As of yesterday, New South Wales was reporting 235 cases; Queensland had 43; South Australia, 14; Northern Territory, 11; and Western Australia had eight - all still increasing. Victoria had 31 reported cases but was dropping. Only Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory were reporting zero cases. So how did it get to this?
Meanwhile, New Zealand's uncanny good fortune has held. Our encounter with a positive case, who travelled from Australia and visited multiple locations around Wellington, resulted in no community cases.
Unfortunately, Australia's strategy is very similar to New Zealand and our transtasman travel bubble leaves the door ajar to us becoming another casualty. Quarantine-free travel from ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria will resume from Monday, although negative pre-departure tests will be required to enter New Zealand.
With all due sympathies to our transtasman whānau, the lessons are there to be learned.
Frontline staff need to be vaccinated, and remain constantly vigilant. Quarantine facilities need the best air circulation and refreshed air.
New Zealand's vaccination programme needs to be stepped up and general compliance with prevention measures and contact tracing maintained.
District health boards need to act as one with Ministry of Health advice and protocols.
No, our Government's response to the pandemic hasn't been perfect. But if we own our mistakes and learn from them, as well as others, we give ourselves the best chance of getting through.